Finland: First-Ever Helsinki Smokeout Gets Heavy Police Presence


Photo: I Am Nothing Without My Words
Alexandra Sandbäck: “What exactly did they think we would do? Storm the building?”

‘What did they think we would do – storm the building?’

Exclusive Report and Photos

Last Saturday the first-ever Radical March and Helsinki Smokeout was held by pro-cannabis advocates in Finland.

At 4:20 p.m., a big group of people lit up joints, bongs and pipes in front of the Parliament Building in Helsinki to support, as the organizers stated, “…decriminalization of the use of cannabis, possession of small quantities and farming for personal use to adults.”
The march, organized by Defenders of Nature (Luonnon Puolustajat), started from Hesperia Park at 4 p.m., gathering a crowd of about 200 to 300 people from all over Finland, journalist/activist Alexandra Sandbäck told Toke of the Town on Tuesday.
“Some of the participants arriving by bus from Pori were held up by police outside the city center for what was called a ‘routine control’ of tires, logs, and whatever else,” Sandbäck told us. “After 30 minutes, they let the bus continue on after giving the driver a fine for something minor. The bus went straight to the Parliament Building where people were getting ready to light up.”

Photo: I Am Nothing Without My Words
Finland’s hemp minister Timo Haara was present, and spoke to the press and his friends in the crowd of more than 200 people.

​A police presence of about 50 officers was visible, and according to the media, a total of 80 officers were assigned to the event.
“They were lined up mainly on the stairs to keep people off them, but also a few riding policemen and undercover policemen were present in the crowd,” Sandbäck said.
“The participants in the crowd were peaceful and happy to make a stand,” Sandbäck said.
“What was hardest to grasp was the amount of policemen present,” Sandbäck said. “They pushed people off the stairs, even press… What exactly did they think we would do? Storm the building?”
“Only three people in total were taken away by the police,” Sandbäck told Toke of the Town, “and only two were fined. And out of those two, only one actually got a ticket for marijuana use — the other ticket issued was for resisting arrest.”
All fines have already been paid by the event organizers, according to Sandbäck.
“The demonstration was peaceful and media in Finland were mainly — although not completely openly — criticizing the resources used by the police force,” Sandbäck said.
Another Radical March and Helsinki Smokeout is planned for Sunday, May 1, 2011.
“We do not exclude the possibility of getting cannabis permitted as a taxable substance, and non-prescription medicine to pharmacies, to be sold from alcohol shops, health food stores or coffee shops which have been used successfully in some countries elsewhere in Europe,” organizers said in a statement.
“The current situation is likely to increase crime and concentrate the resources of authorities away from real crime,” organizers said. “Crimes which harm other people should be a priority in the fight against crime. Cannabis users or breeders who farm their plants for their own use do not harm anyone and do not support crime.”
According to the activists, the current practice of forcing cannabis users to acquire the herb from traffickers and criminals exposes users to many other dangerous substances.
“We are calling for a more current approves status in our society to protect people,” the group said.
In Finland, cannabis use, possession and cultivation is illegal. Even though medical marijuana is legal in certain cases, only around 20 patients in Finland are receiving the medicine, according to Sandbäck.
Toke of the Town thanks the amazing Alexandra Sandbäck for her great report and photos!

Photo: I Am Nothing Without My Words
Alexandra Sandbäck: “What was hardest to grasp was the amount of policemen present.”